You come into my cafe everyday.
You have never failed to appear even once, even if it was for just a quick take-away. Regardless of the severity of the weather, you would always appear, telling me the same order, “Caffe Latte, with just a bit of whipped cream please.”
I remember once that it was pouring. I was about to close my cafe, yet there you stood, just across the street, tapping your feet impatiently underneath the bus shelter. You look like you were trying to find the optimal time to cross the street in the rain so that you could order your Caffe Latte. I sent one of my waiters across in an umbrella with a Cafe Latte, just the way you like it. You looked surprised (I was peeking out from the window of my cafe, afraid you would see me) but you accepted it graciously and sat down, drinking it slowly as you waited for the rain to subside.
I wish I had sent that Caffe Latte across to you instead.
You had a simple sense of fashion, yet you managed to pull off whatever you had to wear. I have seen you in skirts, pants, shorts and dresses. They looked stunning on you every time. Once, you came by wearing just a simple black polka dot blouse, a light blue skinny jeans and a worn out pair of sneakers. Your hair was let down, your fringe swept behind your ear. You didn’t have any make up on, except for just that little bit of hint of eye liner.
I don’t think I have seen anything more beautiful than that in my life.
My cafe is simple. There is a little wooden bar at the corner of the shop, where I try to brew the best coffee that I can. Around it are 10 little wooden tables, with 4 wooden chairs places neatly on each side. At the other corner is a small sofa fit for 3, with a vinyl player beside that plays different vinyls each day. You could take it out and put any of the 10 vinyls up for selection that week, and the music would reverberate across the entire cafe.
I played Kings of Convenience the other day, and Parallel Lines was playing. You came in, wearing a grey blouse and denim shorts, with a book in hand. You sat down on the sofa, just beside the vinyl player and started reading. I came up to you with a Cafe Latte, and you looked at me and smiled before taking out the cash to pay for it. At that moment when our eyes met, I had an almost irresistible urge to look away at once, but I held my stare, took your cash and said “Thank you” before leaving.
You continued to read your book and sipped your latte.
I am not sure why you would come into my cafe everyday. I had plenty of theories. Perhaps you really liked the cafe latte here. Or you worked nearby, and this was where you come to escape the hustling of life. But my favourite theory was probably that maybe, just maybe, you came by to see someone who works there.
Maybe that person is me.
You would come into my cafe everyday, and all I could look forward to was the moment that you step into the cafe. Sometimes, when the closing hour of my cafe draws near, I get slight panic attacks, afraid that you would not show up. Just when I was about to tell myself that I should give up, you would stroll into the cafe causally, unaware of the impact that your presence has made on me.
Days turned into weeks and into months, yet you kept up the routine. My friends tell me to be a man and approach you, yet all I could think about was rejection. I was just a skinny boy, pale with unruly hair and a chin that stuck out when I smile. Why would you like someone like me?
Today marks the anniversary of the day which you stepped into my cafe. I told myself, if I don’t do this today, I will never do it. Thoughts ran repeatedly through my head about rejection, but I told myself to step up. It’s been a year. That’s more than sufficient time to prepare yourself for just two options. Either yes or no.
I took the tie out of my closet. Yes? No? No, I shouldn’t look so formal.
I wore just a plain white t-shirt with brown chinos. What about this t-shirt with the Copenhagen Print? Or how about a blue denim shirt instead? Yes or no?
I swept my hair back. Or maybe I should let it down? Yes? No?
I opened the shop, eagerly waiting for you to appear. Slowly, people started streaming into the cafe, and I constantly looked out for you. I was so distracted, I almost spilled a cup of coffee on another customer. “Get a grip,” one of my waiter said, “she will come soon, so don’t worry.”
Then, as if his words has commanded it, you appeared. Wearing a loose white shirt with dark denim jeans, you walked in, looked around and started walking towards me.
“Caffe Latte—” you started.
“With just a bit of whipped cream right?” I jumped in, smiling my biggest smile.
You raised an eyebrow up and after what felt like an eternity, laughed. It was the first time I heard you laugh, and my heart sang with it. “You remember!” you said.
“Of course I do,” I replied, writing your order down. “Coming right up. Please have a seat.”
You smiled, and walked to an empty table, taking out a book to start reading. It was Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins, and you slowly settled into the book. I peeked a few looks at you as I made the Cafe Latte. You were so engrossed in the book, but then you suddenly looked up. Surprised, I quickly looked away.
Perhaps I should not do anything today.
I looked at the Caffe Latte that was in my hand, and thought, maybe I should start small. I wrote “Hi” on a post it, and left it just on the cup itself.
Gingerly, I walked towards you, the cup in my trembling hands. Time seemed to slow as I approached you, but even as I drew near, you did not stir.
“Here you go,” I stammered, putting the cup down on the table.
You looked at the cup, and a knowing smile came over your face. You looked at me and said, victoriously:
“Why don’t you take a seat with me?”